Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kyoto Food & Friends

I had the good fortune to be able to stay with a local family in the Kyoto area. Way more interesting than staying at a hotel as a tourist.

Family dinner

A meal out at a tomato themed restaurant

The family has a tea plantation, which they gave us a tour of.

And finally, I love this photo of Jeremy's parents eating ramen. I like to call Mother's chopstick technique The Spaghetti Method. Daddy shunned them and used his spoon the entire time.


Amanohashidate is one of Japan's three scenic views. They rank everything in Japan.

I didn't take this photo

This is what it looks like on a map

Some photos I took on the sandbar

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ginkakuji Temple and Heian Jingu Shrine

Visited Ginkakuji Temple in Kyoto, which has beautiful gardens and grounds you can walk through.

 Wishes at the base of a waterfall


View from the top of the trail

 Heian Jingu Shrine can be found in downtown Kyoto

 Paper wishes tied to a tree

A passing wedding procession

The main entrance


Friday, April 12, 2013

Matsumoto Castle

The Skabelunds were nice enough to invite me along on their family trip to Matsumoto Castle (near Nagano) and Kyoto. The cherry blossoms were in bloom, so I went a little picture crazy.

Some of the defensive weapons they used to defend the castle back then. 

Monday, April 01, 2013

Northen Japan Service Trip

I had the opportunity to join a service trip into Northern Japan. We spent two days working at a community seaweed coop in Ishinomaki, Onagawa. This area was wiped out by the devastating tsunami several years ago. At this stage, they are focused on rebuilding the economic infrastructure.

Much of the labor force has left the area, so they are shorthanded and don't have enough resources to hire many workers from outside. It's peak seaweed season at the moment. By bringing in a free labor force for 2 days, it helps them be that much more profitable for this crop season, allowing them to rebuild faster.

There were four of us from my Yokota Ward, including the bishop. The rest were Japanese volunteers from throughout the Tokyo area. We rode up late Wednesday night, arriving early Thursday morning. We worked all day Thursday and Friday, staying in a hotel one night. Another overnight on the bus returned us home early Saturday morning.

My fellow Yokota Ward Volunteers

Not exactly a modern factory. Processing methods are very hands on and labor intensive. I didn't mean to catch that lady coming out of the john.

They separate the seaweed into different sections for other groups to break down further. This part was left to the professionals.

In the mornings, we were put on "skinning" duty, removing the leaves from the thick stems. 

They take regular coffee breaks at 10 am and 3 pm. Most of the peace signs doubled as cigarette holders. Smoking is rampant among the fishermen. 

We had a nice Japanese meal at the hotel that night.

Our rooms were on the water. (Hooray for no tsunamis while we were there!)

After skinning, we spent the rest of the day in chopping sheds, where we would work on a different part of the seaweed.

Bishop Skabelund

Child labor

Senior labor

Our entire group prior to heading home. You can see the destruction to the only building left standing. It had steal framing. They use the hollowed out bottom floor for storage, and the second floor for office/meeting space.